Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Rebennack's Appliance: A west side tradition



Kingston business, under new ownership for past 11 years, continues to grow

By ALAN K. STOUT
NEPA’s BEST BUSINESSES

Rebennack's Appliance in Kingston has been fixture in the community for decades. It is a place that, for several generations, dating back 70 years, people have gone to find all of their appliance needs. For the past 11years, however, the business has been under new ownership. And in that time, it has not only continued on, but has actually grown considerably.

Rebennack's, which was once a family business, is now owned by Jim Broda, a 35 year-old native of Pittston. He says when he first purchased the business 11 years ago, he saw it as a good opportunity, and so far, that has proven to be true.

"I was 25, and I worked at one of the distributors, and I used to deliver appliances to Rebennack's," says Broda. "At the time, I was starting to buy real estate, but I delivered appliances as my full-time job, and at some point, I realized Rebennack's was about to close, because the owner was about to retire. I went in and made them an offer."

Broda says that after some wheeling and dealing, an agreement was made. And over the past years 11 years, he has not simply carried the torch of a long-standing west side business, he's expanded it and made it grow.

"I've just worked at it, and now we're a couple-of-million-dollars-a-year company," he says. "We went from displaying about $30,000 (worth of merchandise) on the floor to close to $200,000. I own my own building, my inventory and my trucks. That's where we're at, almost 11 years later."

Rebennack's employs between six to nine people, depending on the season. Its inventory includes washers, dryers, stoves, dishwashers and smaller specialty appliances. Broda often puts in long days, but he's not complaining. In fact, he says the success of the business has helped him pursue other interests.

"It's a challenge, which I do enjoy, " he says. "It's neat owning something that you can take care of. I have different financial goals from when I started. I'm
getting heavily into investing – retirement funds and a lot of things, and this is supporting that. It's a challenge every day to come in and hit numbers to feed my investments."

Broda, of course, has become an expert on all appliances. Have any question about a product? He'll know the answer.

"I'm here every day, seven days a week, whether it's for a couple of hours or 12 hours," he says. "I know the products in and out. I go to all of the seminars regularly, from here to Chicago to all of the major hubs, where we go right to the (manufacturer's) main facilities. About 90-percent of our floor is 'Made in America.' And that's easy to do with the Whirlpool family, as they have about five brands under them. We display about 200 pieces on the floor. We have almost 50 refrigerators on display and probably 30 washers and dryers.”

 Interestingly, only about a year after Broda bought the business, a Lowe's opened only about a mile away. And though that could have spelled doom for a smaller, locally owned and operated company, Broda says it's been a blessing.

"My workers said to me 'What are we going to do?',' and I said 'Keep working.' That all we could do," he says. "When Lowe's opened their doors, the first day, we were checking the doors to make sure we didn't forget to lock them, and picking up the receiver to make sure there was a dial tone. There was no business that day. It was dead. Not a single call. Not a single footprint coming through that door. The next day, which was a Sunday, we were over-inundated, and that's when we started extending our Sunday hours. People were going to Lowe's, and coming to us with model numbers and prices, and we were beating them, and they were buying on the spot. Lowe's helped fuel our business. It brought the Gateway and Narrows Shopping Centers back, and it brought business back to Wyoming Ave."

Broda, who lives with his wife, Kim, in Plains, says he truly appreciates his customers and that the business had led to many
friendships.

"We have people that just stop in regularly to chit-chat," he says. ""Almost all of my personal friends have come from the business, from all walks of life."